This Hearty Pickle Soup Recipe, or Rassolnik, as it is called in Russia, is courtesy of my mother-in-law. She came to visit us for a couple of months and made this soup. What I loved most about it is that she used pickle juice instead of actual pickles, like most other pickle soup recipes I've tasted.
Like this Meatball Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash or my Simple Seafood Soup Recipe, this dish is easy to make, filling, and nutritious!
Aside from its health benefits, pickle juice adds subtle pickle flavor, whereas I find that adding actual sliced or shredded pickles is less gentle on the palate.
Why we love this recipe
- Easy and convenient: It's really simple to make, with no complicated ingredients. So convenient too! Make it on a weekend and it can last you the work week; you won't get sick of it 🙂
- Hearty and Nutritious: the chicken, potatoes, and barley make the soup so satisfyingly filling and hearty! Plus, it's healthy, Protein, grains, and veggies.
- Unique: the unusual use of pickles in a soup makes this recipe an interesting and unique choice! Sometimes we just want something different.
- Olive Oil: we'll need this to sauté the onion and carrot
- Onion: 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- Carrot: 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- Water: our soup base
- Chicken: skinless chicken breast or thighs will add heartiness to the soup
- Potatoes: Yukon gold potatoes work great. They don't fall apart as easily as some of the other potatoes when cooked in the soup.
- Barley: choose pearl barley because it cooks quicker than other types of barley.
- Pickle juice: the star of the dish! It is of course what makes pickle soup pickle soup.
- Seasoning: salt, ground black pepper and some Mrs. Dash or Vegeta seasoning.
see recipe card below for full list of ingredients and quantities
Substitutions and Variations
- Water: most often than not, I use water as my base for soups, but you can also use vegetable stock or chicken stock. Or, you can use half 50% water and 50% stock.
- Pickle juice: you may also like to shred some pickles and add them when sautéing your onion and carrot. Depending on how tart you like the soup, you can also add the pickle juice after adding the water or stock base.
- Celery: adds aromatics. It's usually added to soups along with the onion and carrot, but it's optional for this recipe.
See recipe card at the end of the post for more detailed preparation:
STEP 1: Prepare the ingredients
Chop the onion, grate the carrot, and dice the potatoes. Using a colander rinse the pearl barley until the water runs clear.
STEP 2: Parboil the meat
Place the chicken into a large pot and cover it with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water has boiled and the foam has risen to the top, drain it and rinse the meat. Transfer the chicken onto a cutting board and set aside to cool down.
STEP 3: Sauté onion and carrot
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot, or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, grated carrot, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Stir well and sauté until the onion is translucent and the carrot has softened (about 2-3 minutes).
STEP 4: Add diced chicken
The chicken should be cool enough to be diced now. dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the pot.
STEP 5: Add the remaining ingredients
Add the potatoes, barley, water, pickle juice, and Mrs. Dash or Vegeta seasoning. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer.
STEP 6: Simmer
Continue to simmer until the potatoes and barley have softened. Add more salt and/or pickle juice to taste. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream (optional)
- Parboil the meat and drain the murky water to achieve a clearer broth and remove excess fat and impurities from the chicken
- Barley triples in volume and absorbs a lot of the liquid it is cooked in, so make sure to use a large pot!
- This recipe makes a hearty, thick, stew-like, soup. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may like to use a little less barley. Alternatively, you can cook the barley separately, and rinse it under cool water once it cooks. This will rinse off a lot of the starch that would thicken the soup. Once you rinse the barley, add it to the soup and allow it to absorb all the soup flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
I adopted this technique from my mom. When cooking meaty soups, she first places the meat in a pot and covers it with water; just enough water to cover the meat. She then brings it to a boil and, as soon as the foam forms on top, she drains that water and rinses the meat. It's not a necessary step because you can just skim those impurities off, but, like my mom, I find that the soup/broth turns out more clear. It doesn't take much extra effort either.
I tried making this soup both ways: with grated pickles and just the pickle brine. Pickle juice adds a subtle pickle flavor, whereas I find that adding actual chopped or grated pickles is less gentle on the palate.
You can of course add both.
Storing and reheating
The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days. But, because barley expands when cooked, I try to reheat only as much soup as I need for that meal, say, four people that evening.
Transfer only the amount of soup you will need into a small pot and warm on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Keep the remaining soup in the refrigerator for the next day.
To freeze the soup, transfer it to air-tight, freezer-friendly bags and store in the freezer for upto 6 months. To reheat transfer the frozen soup to a pot and cook until the soup is hot and fully thawed, stirring occasionally.
Try our other soup recipes
Hearty Pickle Soup Recipe
- 1 lb. chicken breast or thighs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - for sautéing
- 1 yellow onion medium, chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 10-12 cups water depending on the size of your soup pot
- 3 medium potatoes peeled and diced - Yukon gold preferred.
- 1/2 cup pearl barley - if you like your soup thinner use 1/3 cup
- 1 cup pickle juice - pickle brine from a jar of pickles
- 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash original, salt-free or Vegeta seasoning
- Prepare the ingredients:Peel, rinse, and chop the onion. Peel, rinse and grate the carrot. Peel, rinse and dice the potatoes into about 1/2 inch cubes. Using a colander rinse the pearl barley until the water runs clear.
- Parboil the meat:Place the chicken into a large pot, or a Dutch oven, and cover it with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water has boiled and the foam/impurities have risen to the top, drain the water, rinse the meat, transfer the chicken onto a cutting board and set aside to cool down.
- Sauté onion and carrot:Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil the soup pot, or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, grated carrot, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Stir well and sauté until the onion is translucent and the carrot has softened (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add diced chicken:The chicken should be cool enough to be diced now. Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the pot.
- Add the remaining ingredients:Add the cubed potatoes, pearl barley, 10-12 cups of water, pickle juice, and the Mrs. Dash or Vegeta seasoning. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer until the potatoes and barley have softened. Add more salt and/or pickle juice to taste. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream optional).